by Nancy Callies
Photo © quavondo/shutterstock.com
I want to live. I want to watch our sons’ lives unfold and walk along the lake, holding my husband’s hand. I want to sit in the sunshine and drink peach iced tea and watch the flowers bloom. I want to be there for our sons, like my parents were there for me. There is so much left that I would like to do; yet, every day it gets harder to survive.
A walk across the room leaves me breathless. Taking a shower or just getting dressed is a major effort. When I pray, “If I should die before I wake,” I mean those words in a literal sense. It is terrifying to gasp for air and not know if there will be enough just to get out of bed. Dear Jesus, this is not how I would have chosen to die. Yet, Your words, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 ESV) and “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) comfort me. I know You are Lord over life, death, and disease, and You know what is best for me.
Since this disease (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) was diagnosed almost 2-1/2 years ago, little by little I have felt my body being whittled down to the “essence of me.” My livelihood, my hobbies, my independence—all have been taken. I feel impotent. The question I asked as the transplant word first surfaced in the doctor’s office was, “Where is God leading me?” My husband’s answer: “Just follow.” And I have been trying.
Through all of the biopsies, blood work, MRIs, Jesus has been with me. Through it all, I did what I was told. But my health continues to decline. It has been a test of faith, and right now that faith is feeling frazzled. Oxygen has increased from a little canister to a bigger canister to using a machine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At times, I feel sorry for myself. I want to zip out of this body and be my old self again.
Through this all, though, the Lord has been with me. When I have felt abandoned, He has answered my prayers through cards, calls, and visits from family and friends. When I have had sleepless nights, He has given me “the peace that passes all understanding.” I can actually feel when people are praying for me.
In my 58 years of life, I have had many blessings. I was raised in a Christian home. I am thankful for my husband and feel privileged to be the mother of Peter, Matthew, and Joshua. I am grateful for my 20 years as a teacher.
While I want to be on earth with my family, I yearn also for that heavenly mansion Jesus has prepared for me. I look forward to being reunited with relatives who went before me. My time to see Jesus face-to-face seems to be drawing nearer, and I want people whose lives have touched mine to be with me in heaven. That seems to be summed up in the words of the familiar Christmas hymn: “Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”
Lord Jesus, please be with us as we live, dream, and pray for Your guidance through the trials we face. None of us is guaranteed another tomorrow. We all have to be ready to face our Savior today.
About the Author: Nancy Callies, a retired Christian day-school teacher, pastor’s wife, and mother of three grown sons, is a member of Hope Lutheran Church, Fond Du Lac, Wis. she was blessed with a single lung transplant a month after this article was composed.